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11/19/2012
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Nintendo Wii U Adds Video Chat

Embedded technology from Vidyo lets Wii owners conduct videoconferences, watch TV with remote users, and eventually play games with embedded video.

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Nintendo's new Wii U video game system, which went on sale this weekend, is shipping with technology licensed from Vidyo to enable video chat, social TV, and an application programming interface that will allow game developers to incorporate video interaction.

The Wii U is getting mixed reviews so far, partly because the initial release of the device is missing some of the associated TV services Nintendo has been promising. At the same time, reviewers are pointing to the addition of the GamePad remote as one of the most significant innovations because it's essentially a small tablet with its own 6.2-inch touchscreen. The same video feed can be displayed on both the big screen and the handheld, but it's also possible to watch a TV program while conducting a video chat on the handheld.

Vidyo is a videoconferencing technology player that brags about its efficient use of network bandwidth and its software-based approach, which makes its technology relatively easy to embed in other applications, cloud services, and now consumer products. Vidyo also provides some of the enabling technology for Google Hangouts.

Ofer Shapiro, CEO and co-founder at Vidyo, said he was excited to see his company's technology reach "close to ubiquitous endpoints in homes." Although the underlying technology is the same, at least initially Wii U users wouldn't be able to connect to a Google Hangout or a corporate video conference. However, as a low-cost videoconferencing device the Wii U could conceivably have a future in the small-to-midsize business market, "if that's what people wanted," and could certainly be a vehicle for video-based services such as tutoring or distance learning, he said.


The Nintendo Wii U can display video on the TV screen, a handheld controller, or both.

Nintendo's video chat service is initially a point-to-point one, suitable for allowing family members at two locations to converse through their TVs. In the next phase, Nintendo intends to allow video connections between three locations and also support connections to mobile devices, Ofer said. "The initial application is communication, but with the APIs we also expect social gaming to play a role," he said.

In a prepared statement, Genyo Takeda, general manager of the Integrated Research & Development Division at Nintendo Co. Ltd., praised Vidyo for providing "a video solution that adapts to changing network conditions while being easy for consumers to use from the comfort of their living rooms."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2012 | 7:13:05 PM
re: Nintendo Wii U Adds Video Chat
Great addition the meeting deck platform, why not have your company meeting on your Wii? The author makes some valid points, costs of video conferencing systems for businesses are quite high. The new Wii goes for price ranging from $300-$500, in all the ads I was reading, that is a small cost to collaborate meetings into your business. I also like that you have the small screen on the hand held that allows you to be semi-mobile in your workspace during meetings.

Paul Sprague
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